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Earth Could Reach Critical Climate Threshold in a Decade, Scientists Warn
by Nadia Prupis
Speaking at a University of Oxford conference this week, led by leading UK climate researcher Richard Betts, scientists said global greenhouse gas emissions are not likely to slow down quickly enough to avoid passing the 1.5°C target.
The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C was agreed to in the landmark Paris agreement negotiated by 195 nations last year.
But the planet is continuing to experience unprecedented heat month after month, setting 2016 on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. In fact, the scientists said, Earth is currently on a trajectory to hit at least 2.7°C in global temperature rise.
Pete Smith, a plant and soil scientist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said mass lifestyle change must be undertaken to combat rising temperatures, such as developing more sustainable diets, reducing food waste and red meat intake, and importing fewer greenhouse gas-heavy vegetables.
"There are lots of behavioral changes required, not just by the government ... but by us," he said. He also warned that controversial geoengineering techniques such as sunlight blocking could become the norm in some countries.
The warning came the same day that Oil Change International released a report that found we have 17 years left to get off fossil fuels, or else face unprecedented and irreversible climate catastrophe.
Yet more bad news also emerged Thursday as a new study published in the journal Science found that the Earth is soaking up carbon at a far slower rate than previously estimated—which could mean a massive setback for environmental efforts.
Once considered a vital weapon in the fight against climate change, the soil, which traps carbon that would ordinarily be released into the atmosphere, has now been found to take a much longer time to absorb carbon than scientists believed—which means its potential for carbon sequestration this century "may only be half of what we thought it was," the Washington Post explains.
As Jim Hall, director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, put it at the conference, "We need to get ready to deal with surprise."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tara Lohan
It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.
Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.
By Brenda Ekwurzel
When temperatures hit the 80s Fahrenheit in May above latitude 40, sun-seekers hit the parks, lakes, and beaches, and thoughts turn to summer. By contrast, when temperatures lurk in the drizzly 40s and 50s well into flower season, northerners get impatient for summer. But when those 80-degree temperatures visit latitude 64 in Russia, as they just did, and when sleet disrupts Mother's Day weekend in May in Massachusetts, as it just did, thoughts turn to: what is going on here?
By Eoin Higgins
A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.